Adventures in New Recipes

I’ve been cook­ing din­ner more than usu­al, late­ly. This is part­ly to save mon­ey (eat­ing out a lot can add up), but also because I have a lighter sched­ule, so there’s a bit more time to shop for ingre­di­ents and make the dishes.

There have been 2 prin­ci­pal­ly new sources for recipes: one is the H‑Mart (the very nice Kore­an Super­mar­ket) on Rob­son, which has all sorts of ingre­di­ents and even a few con­ve­nience foods (mix­es, frozen food) that let me attempt a few unfa­mil­iar Asian dish­es. Yes­ter­day I tried a Kore­an mix, that is essen­tial­ly a flour and water pan­cake that you add veg­eta­bles and meat or seafood to. It turned out extreme­ly well, but I did­n’t know what sauce I should serve with it (it need­ed a lit­tle driz­zle of some­thing), so after check­ing a few sources (includ­ing the always help­ful peo­ple at the Asian Foods stall at Granville Mar­ket), I could­n’t find any ‘tra­di­tion­al’ sauce for it. I end­ed up using ‘fruit sauce’, which is that tamarind-based sauce that you typ­i­cal­ly have on Tonkat­su, the won­der­ful fried chick­en or pork cut­let that is Japan’s answer to Wiener schnitzel. We had the pan­cakes (wth a ton of veg­eta­bles and some Kore­an-style beef — mar­i­nat­ed in gin­ger, gar­lic, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vine­gar) over rice and with stir-fried baby bok choy and shi­take mush­rooms on the side. I know that it was essen­tial­ly a mish­mash of Kore­an, Chi­nese and Japan­ese cuisines, but it seemed to turn out pret­ty well.

The sec­ond source of recipes has been a superb cook­ing show that we’ve been TiVO-ing from the Food Chan­nel: French Food at Home, with Lau­ra Calder. Lau­ra’s recipes have been hit­ting it out of the park near­ly every time. A month or so ago we tried some of her side dish­es: a ter­rif­ic baked grat­ed pota­to cake (the rus­set pota­to shreds get tossed with cream, which seemed to have just enough fat to hold them togeth­er with­out stick­ing to the foil or get­ting greasy — the result is a light and crunchy pota­to pan­cake with­out fry­ing!), and a bacon and brus­sel sprout leaf side dish that could even get peo­ple who dis­like that veg­etable to love it for the first time. A cou­ple of days ago we tried her deli­cious cold swiss chard with toast­ed sesame seeds, sug­ar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Tonight, I made her Sautéed Chick­en with fresh chopped rose­mary and thyme and white wine. Once again, a good dish. Rarely have I had such a good hit rate with any­body’s recipes, much less a TV cook; Rachel Ray is fun, but with a few excep­tions, her 30 Minute Meals are not always as tasty as they are fast. Jamie Oliv­er was the first Celebri­ty cook I ever watched reg­u­lar­ly with a lot of gut­sy Ital­ian-style dish­es, but the suc­cess rate with his recipes was kind of spotty.

With Granville Island’s pub­lic mar­ket with­in a short walk, access to lots of Asian foods, a good kitchen, and now a lit­tle extra time to pro­cure and pre­pare, din­ners have been a lot bet­ter than usu­al. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, when I do find a new full-time job this extra time will go away, but it’s nice to enjoy it while I can, with a steadi­ly grow­ing reper­toire of dishes.

5 Replies to “Adventures in New Recipes”

  1. My mouth is water­ing. You are an inspi­ra­tion. I like the idea of the chick­en and fresh herbs.…will have to try that. Any links to recipes?

  2. Jeez, David, they all sound delish!

    When we get up there, we’ll have to have you come over and cater a gourmet meal for us! 🙂

    As for the H‑Mart on Rob­son: I went in there based on a review of their lunch counter/restaurant. Being so con­fused by the menu with no descrip­tions and no one par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in assist­ing me, I left with­out order­ing any­thing. The mar­ket does look like a cook’s delight, though.

  3. MJ — you can find all of them on the Food Chan­nel’s French Food at Home site — the chick­en recipe is at:

    As for the pota­to cakes, they are at:

    The bacon brus­sel sprouts one is:

    The swiss chard is at:
    (that last one is one that Pam found, and think she’s con­fused the source as it’s from anoth­er show, and not one of Lau­ra Calder’s, as far as I can tell)

    Bob, I know what you mean about H‑Mart, and I have to say that the lack of instruc­tions for for­eign­ers (which is what we are when we go to places like these) is fair­ly uni­ver­sal. I find that a lot of store employ­ees are more than hap­py to tell you what to get/eat, but it is usu­al­ly up to you to ask them. It takes a fair amount of brav­ery, and noth­ing will be hand­ed to you. Some­times I get a lit­tle frus­trat­ed, and wish that I had a per­son­al guide to come with me because I know I’m miss­ing out on some of the more exot­ic fare. Last year I tried my first bit of jel­ly­fish and was sur­prised to find it a lot like the sea­weed sal­ad that I often will get along with sushi. No one told me, and there is always the assump­tion that West­ern­ers won’t like any of it, which is a shame.

    I’m begin­ning to think that the answer is to take an Asian cook­ing class (or per­haps even a class for each of the main Asian cuisines, since Thai cook­ing is as dif­fer­ent from Kore­an, Chi­nese, Viet­namese and Japan­ese as Ger­man is from French and Italian!)

    Also, as time goes by and these estab­lish­ments become less insu­lar, I sus­pect that some of them will start to cater to more than the tra­di­tion­al shoppers/diners. When I lived in Rochester, NY, I dis­cov­ered a fan­tas­tic Viet­namese restau­rant, and used to go there reg­u­lar­ly and turned on a lot of friends at school to it. By the time I left that city, the restau­rant had grad­u­al­ly changed so that at least half of their clientèle was from out­side the Viet­namese com­mu­ni­ty, and all of the menus had care­ful trans­la­tions, the tables had table­cloths under glass tops (instead of their orig­i­nal check­ered oil­cloths), etc. Some­times I won­der how much I had to do with their suc­cess, as I was frus­trat­ed near the end of my stay that I could­n’t get a table any more on some busy nights…

  4. Thanks for the links.… I like the idea of a cook­ing course. I think a course helps you get an idea of how to impro­vise etc.

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